In January 1997 theBrewsLeadergot a new look when Jeff Hewit took over publishing duties from Padge Severin. In his first issue Jeff thanked Jean Korol for hosting the 1996 Holiday party saying she was too new to realize what she might be getting herself into. If Jean could have seen into the future she might have agreed but if Jeff had looked into the crystal ball he might have balked at the prospect of an eight-year hitch as secretary.
In the first half of 1997 our President was Dave Barnes. Dave, a biology teacher, an excellent brewer and a popular president, so it was a bummer when he announced in March 1997 that he and his wife Barb were going to move to Boston in the summer. Jean Korol agreed to accept the nomination to be Dave’s replacement and was elected in May.
Jean made running the club look far easier than it is, but she did a lot of work behind the scenes. She coordinated with the Mid-Atlantic Association of Small Brewers, insuring a role for us at the River City Real Beer festival. Jean’s upbeat style set the tone for all of our events to succeed. Competition coordinator Lindsay Weiford ran a super Dominion Cup in 97 with 115 entries. Club brewing for our parties was a smash with lots of Club sponsored beer for our four fetes namely: St. Pat’s, summer, Oktoberfest, and Holiday parties.
In late summer 97, Jean hooked up with channel 23 and a filming of the fall brew session was planned as part of a feature on the JRHB, set to air on the Virginia Currents show later in 97 or 98. We had scheduled the Oktoberfest brew for my house, but I had never planned on having my backyard on TV. Thanks a lot Jean! We have a copy of the Virginia Currents tape of our ancient rite, which we view on the Brews Cruise bus each year. The year ended with a Holiday party at Padge’s house where we toasted the season with barleywine wort (inside joke).
Most of the info for the “history” from 97 until December 04 is from BrewsLeaderproduced by Jeff Hewit ” 96 issues. I would like to recognize his contributions in this text. Somehow Jeff has the ability to take accurate meeting notes while drinking beer. I have tried this and I can’t do it, but Jeff did it for eight years. He has also given us some solid ideas that have been implemented with a mind to improving club efficiency and structure. He proposed and drafted appropriate bylaws, which we adopted in 1998. As a credentialed BJCP judge, Jeff has been a judge in many competitions. He has given us a lesson in beer judging almost every year as preparation for the club competition in March. When Jeff informed the board of his intention not to seek reelection they hated to see him go, but understood that enough is enough. Jeff said once, “ex-officers get their best ideas after their terms have expired”. Let’s hope that Jeff will supply the club with lots of good ideas in the future.
It is interesting that as recently as 1997, very few members were using kegs; most were bottling all their homebrew. John Klonicke demonstrated kegging equipment and techniques at a club meeting in 97 and Jeff noted in the newsletter: “There are two kinds of brewers: those who keg, and those who wish they did,” so John gets credit for teaching a lot of us how to use kegs. I still refer to the handout material from John’s discussion. This is a good place to cite John’s contributions to our club. In the 10 years he has been in the club, John Klonicke has hosted parties, coordinated club brew sessions and club programs. He served as president for the 2000-2001 term.
By 1998 we were mostly on the yearly schedule we follow now. Having a track to run on simplifies planning and provides continuity.
A tradition that was established more or less in 98 is our volunteering our services to pour beer at the Legend anniversary party. Our friend and host, Tom Martin gets us to work the bar so Legend staff can kick back and party.
Our brews cruise usually takes place in February, before the Legend party, and the 1998 trip to Baltimore was an all time blast, but that is another story.
Then in 1998, and I would like to get personal for a moment, after 18 years of homebrewing I finally won a contest. Yes, I did, I won the 1998 club competition and Jeff printed in big letters, “JACKSON WINS” on the front page of the April newsletter in a font usually reserved for something like Lindbergh’s Atlantic crossing. What a kick! The trick in those days was to get Steve Jarrett to taste your beer and tell you what your style was after the fact. No fooling, that worked.
As I have mentioned before, we adopted our bylaws in 98 and these held sway until 2002 when we amended them to provide for a new position on the Board, the assistant to the competition coordinator. This officer serves one year in preparation for becoming the competition coordinator the following year.
This amendment was the brainchild of Mr. Hewit and it fixed a long-standing problem, namely no one wanted to be competition coordinator if it meant two years of Dominion Club craziness. The year ended, as always, with biannual elections and a Holiday party. P.J. McCarthy was our host in 98.
Starting in 1999, the board was enlarged to include six directors; the thinking was six heads are better than three. Long-time member Stan Kidwell began a period of service as a director and we were lucky to get his experience and savvy. Stan has served on quite a few club boards.
Brent Raper won our 1999 club competition with an exceptional IPA, thus becoming a two-time winner. I remember this as being one of the best beers I have ever tasted.
Frank Timmons who was known as a wheat beer brewer surprised us by taking the Dominion Cup with his barley wine. That was another exceptional beer. It seems that by 1999, good homebrew was not good enough anymore.
Dave Barnes was back in Richmond and coordinated a discussion on Marzen beers.
In October of 1999 club founders Dan Mouer and Mark Stansbury came to our regular meeting and talked about the founding and early history of the JRHB. A lot of Part I of this text grew out of that meeting with Dan and Mark.
Since then Dan Mouer has rejoined his club and, natural leader that he is, we have worked the heck out of him ever since. Seriously, in the last five years Dan has served as Vice President, party host, and party beer brewing coordinator. He has started a wine interest group, which has grown into a separate organization unto itself.The Central Virginia Winemakers is a loosely knit group of thirty or so, who meet monthly and have a website. If you appreciate the grape, see Dan.
John Klonicke opened his doors to us for the 1999 Oktoberfest party. His country house and yard were perfect for crisp weather bonfires and homebrew. John cracked everybody up by having homebrew taps mounted on pumpkins. Nice touch John.
At her last meeting as Madam President, the club presented Jean Korol with an engraved pewter mug, this was done out of affection for Jean. This began a tradition of honoring presidents in this way, but Jean actually earned hers.
As part compensation for the loss of Jean’s leadership, fate sent us a couple of newcomers in the fall of 1999. Jeff and Stasi York had perfected their brewing chops in the Knoxville area and showed us guys a thing or two when they moved here. Jeff celebrated the new millennium by brewing a killer barleywine. (Did they ever figure out when the millennium really started?) The Yorks won the 2000 Club Competition and came in third in the strong ales category in the Dominion Cup that year.
The Yorks have given a lot to the club since they first joined over five years ago, more stuff than I can list, but I would like to recognize some of their efforts. Stasi organized and moderated BJCP classes, increasing our roster of certified Judges. In between they’ve led style discussions, hosted club brews and coordinated our participation in BURP’s mashout event. Now that they are parents Jeff and Stasi might slow down a bit, but don’t bet on it.
In January 2000, the club brewed 20 gallons of beer for the March St Pat’s party. A rims system put together by John Klonicke was used for 10 gallons of red ale and 10 gallons of bitter. The club had never been busier, but on a national scale the homebrewing hobby was in decline, the heady euphoria of the early 90’s had been replaced by the apathy brought on by more great beer than anyone could have imagined. Membership in the AHA was down to about half of 1995’s numbers, so Charlie Papazian hit the beer trail to get the homebrewing engine pumping again. Richmond was a stop over on Charlie’s itinerary and he spent a day here making friends and preaching (mostly to the choir) about the “Joy of Homebrewing.” Bob Henderson, who at that time was affiliated with us and a now defunct club called the Weekend Brewers played the part of host to Charlie and he did a great job. I have a small glass emblazoned with the boast “I drank with Charlie,” and an autographed copy of Charlie’s famous tome. Our April meeting took place at Richbrau where Charlie was honored and gave a speech.
Frank Timmons did the impossible when he won the Dominion Cup for a second time in 2000, this time with a Bavarian Weizen.
In 2000 we got a new member in the person of Chuck Wine, from Glouster NJ. Chuck was and enthusiastic brewer with an enormous system (by homebrew standards). It’s been the practice of the club to solicit the membership for volunteers to host one of our four parties, and I remember Chuck enthusiastically gave us the use of his house on the lake time after time for that purpose. For this generosity we remain very grateful. Chuck has since moved back to New Jersey, but we hope he will stay in touch.
Other repeat hosts include Ted and Betty Warren who had their first club Holiday party in 2000, and it was a blast. These folks know how to party. Ted remains very active and I suspect hooked on brewing for good.
As you may know those who bring homebrew to meetings get free raffle tickets and lots of people brought lots of beer to the January 2001 meeting. This did not prevent our VEEP, Jeff York from selling a lot of tickets and starting his new job on a positive note.
In 2001, I won the club competition again, prompting Jeff Hewit to say, “See brewing is so easy even an idiot can do it.”
In 2001, member Mark Vick gave a very interesting talk on mead making. He’s done this a couple of times and it’s always fun. Mark is BJCP certified, and is a very senior member of the club, having joined in 1990. Anyone, who has ever shared a judging table with Mark knows this guy really knows his stuff.
The 2001 Dominion Cup was won by Cal Townes with a Belgian Specialty Ale. This was a busy year for Cal, who also managed our Brews Cruise to Baltimore and hosted the Holiday party.
After a hard fought campaign against myself, I was elected president for the 02-03 term, and having earned political capital, I intended to spend it. So, I spent a quarter and called Jeff Hewit and asked him what I should do. Here’s some stuff we did.
The bylaws were amended as previously mentioned; creating the Assistant Competition Coordinator position and Joel Trojnar accepted that position. That ensured an experienced successor for Mike Buddle at the end of his term.
We proposed and the board agreed that there should be six board meetings each year instead of four. This, of course, provides two more chances to drink beer.
In early 02, the board approved expenditures to establish and maintain a website, and later in the year Mr. Ronnie Anderson was appointed webmaster. Our site quickly became something to be proud of.
Jeff Hewit won the club competition proving that even with the handicap of not being and idiot, one can learn to brew good beer.
In 2002 the Dominion Cup was held at Legend, and thanks to Tom Martin we have had it there ever since. It is a perfect place for the competition with cold storage in the lagering room and an almost deserted pub on Saturday mornings.
Also in 2002, Stasi York ran the BJCP study group we’ve mentioned and agreed to serve as assistant competition coordinator for 2003. Another new face on the board was none other than the Abraham of our flock, Dan Mouer who took over as vice president from Jeff York.
The year ended with a seasonal merriment at the home of Tedd and Donna Smith. Wonder if Tedd, like Jean Korol in 1996, had any idea how much club work the future had in store for him.
Plans for a Brews Cruise to Chapel Hill occupied the beginning of 2003, along with consideration of how we might appropriately celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the James River Homebrewers in February. It was decided that the anniversary celebration should be combined with the St. Pat’s gala. As many former members, including charter members, as possible were contacted and invited to attend the March 22 party which was planned to be held at Chuck Wine’s house. To this end the first ever “Super Sunday Simul Brew” was held at the Yorks, and at my place resulting in enough pale ale and stout to quench the thirst of an army of reprobates.
I recall that anniversary party was a blast, attendance by former members was disappointing, but it was great to see Jim Dickerson and Algis Radizisaukas of monster mash fame. Gary Tolley, Lorna Leake, and Mark Stansbury were contacted but couldn’t come. Maybe for the thirtieth??
Jeff and Stasi won the 03 Club Competition with their unbeatable Imperial Stout. I’ll be glad when they run out of that stuff so someone else has a chance.
The 03 Dominion Cup was a very smooth operation. Joel and Stasi oversaw the judging of 99 entries. Home team brewers who did well were: Jeff Hewit (first placepale ale), Joel Trojnar and Keith Shelton (first place brown ale), Patrick Foster (first place Belgian and French ales), and Jeff York (third place porter).
The year 2004 is the end of the line for this story and what a great year for the club it was.
Tedd Smith took on the president’s job in January 2004. Believe me, he was already plenty busy with active kids, and a business to run. We were lucky to have him. Bobby Yenney became our secretary, and brewmeister Steve Severtson stepped in as assistant competition coordinator. Please note as an aside, Steve’s classic American pilsner took first place in the AHA nationals, American light lager competition in 2002.
Stasi became competition coordinator. She was perfect for this job, possessing an eye for detail and a mania for organization. It should be noted that Stasi didn’t let the fact that she was about to be a mother interfere with life’s most important calling, judging homebrew.
We welcomed Woody Elliot to the board as a director, and he accepted the post of assistant competition coordinator starting in 05. Rounding out the board for 04, Joel and I served as directors.
It’s amazing how our club program caters to the needs of beginners and experienced brewers alike. In 04 Bob Henderson taught a class in “Brewing 101”, Jeff Hewit did his “beer judging” talk, and Bobby Yenney and I demonstrated kegging techniques. But also in 04 a group of our members spent a Saturday at Richbrau Brewing Co., brewing an enlarged version of Steve Severtson’s “Pre-Pro Pils” in a real brew house. This beer was later on tap at Richbrau with attribution for the club, and for Steve.
History repeated itself in 2004 with a big brew reminiscent of the “Monster Mash”. Four teams of brewers converged at the Weekend Brewer’s” store to participate in the Mongolian cluster brew. Four beers were made to be consumed and judged at the 04 Holiday party. The Holiday party and judging took place at Steve and Kimmie Jarrett’s new digs, and it was a super party. The competition was intense, but the team of Keith Shelton and Cecil Graham took the honors with their Infinite Gravity Stout. For their efforts the winners were presented with the ceremonial Cluster Brew mash paddle hand crafted by master cabinet maker Ted Warren. The intention is to do this every year.
Jumping around a bit, it is noteworthy that Keith accepted the nomination and was elected to be our secretary for 05 and 06, succeeding the eight-year tenure of wild man and reporter Jeff Hewit. From the looks of the 05 Brews Leaders, the revered periodical is in good hands.
We’re familiar with the AHA style competitions where the various clubs have particular style competitions, the winners which are sent to be judged against each other for the championship.
Our club hosted the national IPA style competition in 04, and Bobby Yenney whose “Hop Soup II”, had won our IPA competition, and came in second in the nationals. Way to go Bobby!
Stasi had a busy year since she had not only the club competition and the Dominion Cup to run, but also the IPA competition, which involved 52 entries.
Also noteworthy from 04 was a program presentation from Professor Dan Mouer on the history of Richmond brewing. This talk was the second for Dan on Old Dominion brewing history. The first being based on Dan’s published work, “Making Mrs. Cary’s Good Ale”, Beer in Colonial Virginia. Back in May of 02 Dan made beer using a colonial recipe and technique which was served as an adjunct to his lecture on the brewing of a colonial beer. I doubt that other clubs have programs of this quality.
Ending this report on the club’s activities in 2004. I’d like to acknowledge a few of my friends who are always in the middle of everything the club is up to. To wit: Bob Henderson, Steve Jarrett, Mike Buddle, Mark Vick, George Hatchell, Glen Edwards, Bobby Yenney, Ted Warren, Woody Elliot and the beautiful Miss Denise Pierce our Member at Large. I hope to get to know all of our newer members soon. Special thanks to our friend and host Tom Martin and the whole mob down at Legend. Tom has been our patron and benefactor for over 10 years, we are deeply in debt to him.
In conclusion we have seen the JRHB evolve from a small informal group into a busy organization with a full calendar and enough impromptu events to make life interesting. All of this because of our members who love good beer, making good beer, and getting together to cement friendships, honor the gods of brewing and celebrate happy occasions.
It’s not easy enough to make excellent beer for some folks, but for those who love beer, appreciate the brewer’s art, and enjoy a challenge, the lure of homebrewing is irresistible.
To quote my friend, Mike Buddle, “the more we brew, the better we drink”.
I’d like to coin a phrase too, how about, “the more we support the James River Homebrewers, the better our supply of friends and fond memories becomes”. Remember also friends, to support what Barley Bob called the “Art of Brewing in the Heart of Virginia.”
— Jack Jackson